October 14, 2018
Metanoia and the Multiplier Effect
Bill Isaacs: A few weeks ago, I attended a conference in Las Vegas. There were 800 people present, mostly under the age of 30, at a week-long business meeting for their company. The title of the conference was "Live Well, Be Well." For various reasons, this group has been drawn into a commitment to take responsibility for themselves, for how they live, and for the character that they express—articulated in those terms. This included a focus on the quality of health they experience, the food they eat, the thoughts they think, and the ways they relate to each other. All this from a generation that supposedly is heading in the opposite direction in terms of taking responsibility for themselves.
At one point while I was speaking to this group as part of a panel discussion I pointed something out to them. I mentioned that people often ask themselves, what does it look like to change the world? What would it mean for there to be real change? People have various understandings of this question, different ambitions about it, and assorted fantasies about how it might look. To answer the question, "What would genuine transformation look like?" I suggested that they look around, to the left and to the right. "This is what it looks like," I said, "What all of you are endeavoring to do here, in the spirit you have moving among you."
There is a multiplier effect possible as we each step up into a new level of responsibility and become aligned with the Age that we're actually in. Human beings have typically focused on themselves, what they want, what they personally need. The quest—to the degree it has been consciously pursued—has always been for individual enlightenment, individual fulfillment. But we are in a time when something very different is required; where the changes needed among human beings are collective, are shared.
I think almost anyone would have been impressed with the level of character and quality of awareness moving in this group. And I am certain that they are not alone. There is a new energy moving to the point where it's almost normal, it's almost accepted, that there would be efforts in this direction now. This is being made visible in many different ways, through many different approaches, involving many different understandings. None of that actually makes much difference. The question of course isn't so much what people think, but what they are experiencing. What matters ultimately is the degree to which they are present to the reality of who they are, to who I Am—something anyone can choose to know.
The pressure is on to experience a new level of wholeness, and anything that does not align with that pattern is being shaken loose. It's actually quite an exciting moment. Paradoxically, the collective potential is only ever met when individuals begin operating from a different place in themselves, when they embody a new stance of "holographic leadership," one where changes in themselves have the tonal quality such that they impact a much wider whole. Much needs to be freed up in oneself to let this actually transpire. People have held fixed views about what change and real transformation might mean. Most efforts in this regard have been focused on producing large scale external shifts, in other people, in policies, in institutional arrangements, in government. But this orientation is being called into question as institutions fail or seem to fall prey to corrupting influences in every direction.
While it's an exciting moment, it's also a disorienting one. What do you rely on, if a lot of the old patterns of thinking no longer apply? We know that one reaction is to cling quite aggressively to one's tribal identity, to reach for something solid, comforting, familiar. We see as a result more and more fragmentation. But something else is pressing to happen. There is a muscle to be built here, a new set of habits to learn, so we can continue to move higher, to gain perspective and live more effectively. Life provides endless practical opportunities to allow us to develop this capacity in ourselves.
For instance, yesterday my wife and I went to Boston to meet some friends in a large mall. This mall is very large, and has an enormous, multileveled parking garage. After we finally found a place to park, it became very challenging simply to figure out how to get out of the garage and into the mall. It wasn't at all evident where the exit was, and there were no signs pointing the way. So we looked around, and eventually found an entrance to one of the better known stores in the mall, which I recognized and remembered from having been there before. So off we went. Some hours later when it came time to leave we went back down the same elevator, proceeded into the garage to look for the car, but to no avail. No car. We had two little children with us so this was not an ideal moment to wander around lost. We passed another man who said, as we walked by, "playing the same game!" Apparently we were not the only ones who experienced a certain amount of disorientation in this garage.
Now I'm not the kind of person who gets lost in such situations. I typically have a very good sense of direction. And in this case, I'd actually consciously noted the number of our parking spot, and went right to it; but no car. At that point I began to doubt my memory. Maybe I hadn't quite remembered it correctly. We were in a bit of a hurry, so perhaps I had one digit off, I thought. So we started a systematic search of this very large parking lot, which really was huge—probably four football fields long and two football fields wide—the largest parking lot in Boston it turns out, with some 3850 parking places. Needless to say we began to get a bit concerned and frustrated. At some point however the obvious hit us. We were on the wrong floor. Even though this floor looked exactly the same as the one we arrived on and, included many features we remembered, I figured at that point I had nothing to lose. So I went up one floor, came out of the elevator, and one minute later, there was the car.
Now this struck me as a useful metaphor. It is very easy to operate at the wrong level, and as a result, get quite lost. And yet all that's needed, in a very specific and personal sense, is to rise up. You can wander around in the labyrinth of the world. It's often quite confusing. Sometimes there are instructions and guideposts, but these also can be scarce or contradictory or wrong. We are all socialized into having a set of expectations about how you are supposed to navigate through the complexity (such as look around systematically) but these are not always so helpful. The situation is also competitive. There are a scarce number of places. You have to find yours quickly or someone else will get there first. And it's also dangerous. You have to watch where you step, as people drive around on their own personal quests. Life provided here a vivid opportunity for some humility, and the chance to recognize that I was operating at the wrong level in that very simple experience. It can be disconcerting to realize that despite feeling confident that you are in the right place, the real need is to rise up.
As more and more people are beginning to notice, the state of the world is getting more dire. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the group of thousands of scientists dedicated to documenting the impacts of climate change on the planet) recently announced that catastrophic change as a result of climate impacts are likely to occur as soon as 2040 now, much faster than anyone had been predicting. Within the lifetimes of many of us, in other words. And by "catastrophic" they mean the flooding of coastal cities, devastation of cropland, destruction of all coral reefs, dislocation of millions of people, and the literal disappearance of small island nations.
A colleague of mine recently wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times anticipating this announcement. He suggested that people consider adopting in response to such dramatic and challenging news a change of mindset, where they start learning to live in a new way, and not either give up or continue to hope for a technological silver bullet. The title of the article was, "Stopping Climate Change is Hopeless. Let's Do It." The enormity of the problem requires the best efforts from people all across the globe, but with an entirely new orientation, one that is actually inherent in human beings. They say that "historically, we've tackled the biggest challenge—that of meaning, and the question of how to live a life—through the concept of "practice," in the form of religion, cultural tradition or disciplines like yoga or martial arts. Given the stark facts, this approach might be the most useful. Practice has value independent of outcome; it's a way of life, not a job with a clear payoff. A joyful habit. The right way to live." (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/06/opinion/sunday/climate-change-global-warming.html)
What is needed in other words, is a fundamental shift of consciousness, a change in our ways of functioning, not merely a program or a technical fix with an aim, but a new way to live. That awareness is beginning to dawn very widely now and I suspect will get even more prevalent as things heat up.
Of course, the climate is not the only direction in which difficulties are appearing. Human beings are being channeled into digital corrals where their data and a record of their behavior is being recorded and sold to the highest bidder, without their awareness. One writer says we are at risk of becoming similar to domesticated animals in service to high-tech companies. He argues that we are losing our ability to think and make decisions for ourselves, and are increasingly prone to being manipulated by an artificial intelligence (AI) that knows our wishes and preferences better than we do ourselves. AI can track our preferences and behavior much more precisely than we can and make better decisions than we can about many important issues. We run the risk of handing off responsibility to these increasingly powerful technologies that are all around us. The temptations on this score are large and often almost invisible (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/10/yuval-noah-harari-technology-tyranny/568330/).
What is needed to counteract all of this could be summarized in a single word. It is an interesting and old word whose meaning is crowded with baggage that needs to be reconsidered. The word—and the need—is to repent. To the degree that human beings are oriented in the material and external pattern of things, including the digitized world of machine learning, they miss what is real. They miss who they Are. It turns out that the word repentance in the Bible was translated originally from the Greek word metanoia. Metanoia comes from two roots; meta, which means to shift up or higher and noos, which is mind: a shift to a higher mind. Metanoia also means a shift in consciousness; a shift of mind and heart. Repent. Change your level of function, in other words, in this moment, around this so-called small and personal experience. Let whatever pattern of distortion, resistance, or limitation is present, dissolve. This needs to be done continuously, not once. People have had the notion that awakening involves reaching some kind of plateau where, once you arrive you're all set. But awakening is a continuous process. Living in a fundamentally new state requires continuous work, continuous conscious attention, and continuous repentance.
One fundamental component in this unfolding experience involves the rediscovery of the true point of balance. Many of the changes that one can see at the moment politically for instance are a reaction to the notion that globalization was winning, and that societies were becoming more open, borders more transparent, economic freedom more available and robust. Then seemingly all of a sudden, we have seen in recent years a shift in a very different direction, a reaction against the feeling of being left out of this rising economic tide, and towards the direction of authoritarian governments, closed borders, and resistance to free trade and globalization. This is a tide moving throughout the world. While what we have seen is a dramatic and, in some ways, clumsy shift from one side of the boat to the other, it may not be entirely misplaced, if it leads back to balance.
All of this is ultimately a function of what is within human beings. Human consciousness has not known balance. The core component of balance in human consciousness arises in the relationship and communion between the masculine and feminine components of the psyche. Restoring balance involves transforming the inner circuitry within us around this territory. Each human being one way or another typically receives two kinds of wounding gifts, one from the masculine and the other from the feminine influences in our lives. In other words, as we each know, we do not receive as we are growing up entirely wholesome messages, support, direction, and encouragement, from parents and others. Imbalance comes as a function of these distorted factors arising and being expressed. How is this to change?
Through metanoia: a shift of mind and heart where we receive and express a different order of essence, the true tonal qualities of character, the true masculine and feminine. That transforms distortions step by step. This can only be done within oneself. Invariably there are components to explore for each of us in both these directions. I will not try to enumerate the factors involved here, but would ask, what would it mean to embody the true masculine—the essences of the Father? What would it mean to embody the essences of the feminine—the Mother? What is the right relationship of the Father's
attitude to the Mother and the Mother's attitude to the Father? This lies at the core of how balance is found, and creativity released. The pendulum swings occurring externally will continue until these matters begin to be held and deliberately addressed within ourselves, within myself. The true pattern and true Tone as it relates to the masculine and feminine is in fact present now, and available to be experienced, to be received, to be expressed.
There have been many generations of individual leaders who have sought to hold something of the flame of integrity. But there has not been a successful pattern of collective leadership. That has been the missing component. Reaching this requires an unprecedented level of relationship, exchange and communion. As this quality of connection appears even in small measure, it transforms human experience. While the emphasis on individual responsibility remains the cornerstone of any leadership approach—there is no collective leadership without it, the amplification of Life requires a quality of communion and coordination among conscious beings. Not because we mentally construct a plan, but because we participate in the coordinating Tone, moment by moment, which is already organizing the whole.
Sometimes that emerges in a context where there are others who are endeavoring to do the same thing, as was the case in this Millennial group that I described at the outset. I am quite sure many of them are going to keep moving and not just because they've been asked to do this as a part of their work, but because they realize there's something to it. Many people came up to me after the various sessions that were held saying exactly that. "I will be thinking about this for the rest of my life," and statements to this effect. There is an enormous longing for something different. The longing is a function of the expression of the Tone of Life moving through hearts and minds, amplified by us and any conscious individual. It is time to let that longing break surface. Some people need to be in position to receive this and amplify it vibrationally. That doesn't necessarily mean standing in front of large crowds personally. It does mean being present vibrationally to underscore the reality that there is something behind what people are sensing because of the quality of our own living moment by moment.
There is a passage in the Bible that accurately outlines this process: "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Revelation 21:12). We are the leaves of the tree of Life, present in the midst of humanity. The tribal divisions that have been present among human beings for many millennia can only be healed as the reality of communion shows itself. Not because we save the world as it is, but because we allow there to be a new world.
Over the last a few days the remnants of a large intense storm passed through our neighborhood. It poured rain for a few days; and then wind blew; then the earth was quiet; and then the sun appeared. In the end, we arrived at a cool clear beautiful crisp fall day. The cycles of life reveal themselves, moving reliably and magnificently and inexorably. We are part of that same rhythm and inexorable movement. And there will be victory as a result. All that's required is metanoia: continuous repentance, moving up higher, moment by moment. Each of us has limitations, imperfections, shortcomings. But despite this we know what we're here to do and have been blessed with the opportunity to participate in this magnificent river of life, to allow the multiplier effect to actually be known.
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